The Sri Lankan government has announced that it will establish a special “Council for reconciliation between religions”, with the aim of building interreligious coexistence in society and avoid any form of polarization.
As stated by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the idea of the Council comes from representatives of Buddhist monks: the Council will include religious leaders of all faith communities present in Sri Lanka. Wickremesinghe recalled that, regardless of religious beliefs, everyone should have the right to freely practice their faith, even if the Constitution of Sri Lanka assigns a sort of “priority” to Buddhism.
The government is working to formulate laws and regulations necessary to establish the Council. The decision to establish the new body comes in the wake of the Easter attacks, claimed by the Islamic State, which shook the country on April 21, killing over 250 people and wounding another 500.
Robert Thilakaratne, a local Catholic layman, told Fides News Agency: “Establishing a Council for religious reconciliation and committing directly to building coexistence in society is a wise move by the government. It will serve to promote solidarity, understanding, harmony, peace, and brotherhood, which the country really need.”.
Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic nation with 22 million inhabitants, mostly Buddhists, but includes Christian, Muslim, and Hindu minorities. Muslims represent almost 10% of the population; Christians are 7.4% (6.1% Catholics and 1.3% Protestants).